70 years since the Mencap movement began, the charity is launching FamilyHub, a new online community, after parents with a learning disability highlighted how valuable emotional support from other parents is to them.

In a survey of over 1000 parents of children with a learning disability, Mencap found that other parents of children with a learning disability are the group that parents wanted to speak to and have found most useful for emotional support when their child was born.

The survey also found:

  • 28% of parents said that they sought out other parents of children with a learning disability when their child was born for emotional support, second only to family and friends
  • 40% of parents said other parents of children with a learning disability were the most useful for emotional support when their child was born.

Of the parents who received no emotional support when their child was born, 27% said other parents were the group they thought would have been most helpful in providing emotional support.

To mark Mencap’s 70th birthday (28 November), the charity is launching a brand new online community to offer vital peer-to-peer support for parents, family members and carers of people with a learning disability: www.mencap.org.uk/familyhub.  

The Mencap movement began in 1946 when Judy Fryd, a mother of a child with a learning disability, wrote to Nursery World magazine with a call to arms for other parents of children with a learning disability to come together and offer each other support and campaign on important issues.

Tom Bachofner, whose daughter Rosie is 5 and has Down’s syndrome, said:

My daughter Rosie was diagnosed before she was born and I remember having a range of emotions, from deep shock and anxiety and a complete fear of the unknown. My lack of knowledge of Down’s syndrome meant that I had preconceptions of what it was – but I know now, with the support of clinical knowledge, other parents and people with a learning disability, and of course, Rosie herself, I know these preconceptions to be completely wrong.

One of the most helpful things we found when Rosie was born was being able to speak to other parents who have experienced similar things. Being able to do this online and connect with people who could offer words of support and personal perspectives on the positives of having a child with a learning disability was invaluable for me and my wife. It led me to starting a blog and I hear through this that other parents found this just as helpful. Being able to access such readily available support and comfort at home has been a lifeline.

Carol-ann Bond, online community manager at Mencap, said:

Mencap’s new online community aims to provide parents with a place that will help them to overcome challenges, voice concerns and, of course, celebrate the positives of having a child with a learning disability, among a community of parents who have had similar experiences and can share much-needed first-hand experience and emotional support.

The Mencap movement began because of Judy Fryd’s desire for parents to come together, to ensure that their children and families are able to access the support and information they need to help overcome the challenges that learning disability can bring.

Emotional support is invaluable for parents and family members when a child is born and being able to access support from others who may have had similar experiences to themselves is incredibly important in helping parents to become better equipped for the challenges that their child’s diagnosis may bring.


For further information, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or media@mencap.org.uk or for out of hours 07770 656 659.

About Mencap

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

Visit www.mencap.org.uk.  

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk.

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.

Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.